Fun and games

May 7, 2019 | Science


Students Richard Mills, Tyrell Wagner, Paulinhea Marin, Cory Efird and Mohammad Mosleh (left to right) try out Mohammad’s game along with faculty member Stephanie Husby and EPL’s Amanda Derksen (bottom right).

Computer science
students hovered around a 65-inch touch-table, dabbing at flashing cards and flicking tiles toward each other. When they weren’t laughing or playing along, they were carefully observing the way the others played their games, troubleshooting and looking for ways to improve them.

The memory-based matching games were the result of a semester's worth of work in CMPT 395: Introduction to Software Engineering. This year, students worked with the Edmonton Public Library to develop fun, engaging games for kids that could be played on touch tables — basically giant tablets. On April 24, the students demoed their games at the Mill Woods branch.

“The demos were fantastic,” says Stephanie Husby, who teaches the course. “We always expect to see some issues arise when testing an application in a new environment, but overall, the challenges were small and easily fixed.”

EPL’s digital initiatives librarian, Amanda Derksen, echoed Stephanie’s sentiments. “The games were all so unique and genuinely fun to play. I was especially impressed by the way the students were able to adapt on the fly to come up with a solution when their prototypes didn’t work perfectly the first time — flexibility and quick thinking under pressure are really important skills, and the MacEwan students are great at both.”

Stephanie says that having a client who is just as invested in the project further motivated the students. “In many other courses, assignments are completed by students quickly and submitted, never to be revisited,” she says. “In a term-long project, they have to keep coming back and making improvements, so they get a better sense of the ongoing work of real-world development.”

Now that the term is over, it’s up to the students to decide the next steps — because any future work will require them to invest their own time. They are welcome to submit their games to EPL for final testing, and if accepted, the games could be deployed sometime over the summer.

“We will conduct our own quality control tests with all the games that we receive, but based on what I’ve seen at the demonstrations, I expect several of the games will make it to the touch table," says Amanda.


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